The wage gap in Greater Boston has not narrowed during the pandemic, according to a new report from the Boston Women’s Workforce Council.
The organization surveyed 156,000 people from 134 Greater Boston companies to confirm a stubborn reality: Women made $0.70 to a man’s dollar. That gap is significantly wider for Black and Hispanic women at 51 cents and 55 cents, respectively. And the numbers have not budged since 2019, when the survey was last conducted.
”The fact that women haven’t lost even more ground during the challenges of the pandemic is a sign of hope,” Kim Borman, executive director of the BWWC, said in a statement. “The persistence of the overall gender wage gap, however, is a signal that there’s lots of work left to do.”
The report reflects workplace data through Dec. 31, 2020.
Many labor economists predicted the wage gap would undergo an “artificial narrowing” during the pandemic, after millions of low-income workers left the workforce, Borman added in an interview. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Now, the reported wage gap varies greatly by job category. Sales and service saw up to a 50 cent discrepancy between men and women. At the executive level, women lagged behind by 26 cents. But laborers and administrative support neared pay equity.
The BWWC also asked participants to self-identify with an industry, revealing vast discrepancies in the way people are paid in sectors dominated by women. Nonprofit companies, for instance, whose employees are 58 percent women, reported a 36 cent wage gap.
“Nonprofits tend to have men dominated in senior positions, in the C-suites,” Borman said.
Advances in racial pay equity also are scant, even after a host of Boston companies rallied around diversity in 2020. Companies like Drizly and HubSpot released statements in support of Black Lives Matter during the George Floyd protests. Others conducted diversity reports. Still, the overall racial wage gap — the difference between the average compensation for all white employees and employees of color — decreased by just one cent from 25 to 24 cents.
But Borman said progress to reduce wage gaps are always slow. The gender gap, for example, isn’t expected to close for 39 years. “The fact that we saw it go down by even a penny — we’re energized by that,” she added.
Asian and American Indian women slightly gained ground by reducing the wage gap with men from 33 and 32 cents, respectively, to 30 cents.
When it comes to cash bonuses, white men out-earned their female colleagues and people of color by three times or more. In fact, Black and Latinx women made just 7 cents of “performance pay” for every dollar a white man took home. At the highest ranks, female executives made $90,000 less in annual compensation. But that number balloons to $280,000, if you count cash bonuses.
If cash bonuses are incorporated in the overall wage gap calculation, it jumps from 30 to 35 cents.
The discrepancy can be partly attributed to the lack of women and people of color in high-level roles that receive such benefits. “It shows that you can’t close the wage gap without moving women, especially women of color, into senior level roles,” Borman said.
There’s a small upside: Salaries across the board increased by an average of 12 percent in 2020.
Released Thursday, the report was the fourth of its kind. It included roughly 14 percent of the Greater Boston workforce, a bump from 2019 when just 9 percent of workers participated. The racial and gender breakdown of the data mirrors the demographic of the region: Almost half of the workers are women; the majority of participants are white.
Each of the participating companies signed a pledge to advance pay equity.
At the moment, most of those surveyed were “knowledge workers,” who handle information rather than working in labor-oriented roles like manufacturing. Come 2023, Borman said she hopes to survey more hospitality and restaurant employees.
Diti Kohli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.